Karen and a bunch of graphs
I did manage to make it to Washington Tuesday night. I've spent the last couple of days meeting with colleagues to discuss a bunch of data that we are working with. The data concern the monarch butterfly, and they have been gathered through a variety of programs that include people who are not formally trained as scientists. These citizen scientist programs are becoming very trendy. I believe that they have the potential to produce a large quantity of important environmental data. I was there in part because of my work with the Illinois Butterfly Monitoring Network. That's a program that I have run since the late 1980s, and we have a very large data set. Karen Oberhauser is a very well known and respected monarch biologist from the University of Minnesota. Leslie Ries is at the University of Maryland, the location of our meeting. She's the statistician of the group. She and I have been collaborating for several years now, and this is the first time that we got to meet in person.
Our goal was to collate data from a bunch of citizen science programs from around the country. It's a really varied bunch of programs. Some focus on the monarch exclusively, others monitor all species including the monarch. Some monitor adults, others eggs and larvae. Some are national programs. Others have a more regional focus. Would we be able see anything coherent from such a variety of data sets?
Leslie and Doug with an alarmingly large set of correlation analyses that need to be done
The good news is that the outcome was very encouraging. There were some interesting things that we were able to see in the data sets. It feels to me like we arrived at this meeting with a bunch of interesting data, and left with the beginnings of a story. Theres still a lot of statistical anaylsis to be done, but I'm very happy with the outcome so far.
Now, off to the Smithsonian/